Black Sabbath

ARTICLE ABOUT Black Sabbath FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, January 24, 1976

This article can be difficult reading in parts for those not so familiar with English slang. This is the sort of review where you`re not sure if he slags the band off or if he really likes them. Make up your own mind!

IMG_0474

OWOTTA LARRFF

Black Sabbath
Hammersmith

By Charles Shaar Murray

The bastards weren`t loud enough!
Not even halfway loud enough. No right-thinking individual can get off on the Sabs unless they`re loud enough to make yer braincells seep out yer ears and run for cover in the warm safety of your trouser pockets.
You need to feel as if Geezer`s sproinging away on the coils of your cerebellum while they`re connected up to a light socket, if you wanna get technical about it. Simultaneously Tony Iommi`s got to be heaving giant slabs of semi-sentient guitar gunge around just behind your eyelids and Bill… well, Bill`s probably out the back smashing his way through a brick wall by the simple expedient of hitting it with his head, while Ozzie caterwauls about something or other in a locked basement.
That`s the way yer real Sabs conna sewer likes it.
`Cuz when it ain`t that loud, it becomes uncomfortably apparent that Black Sabbath are one of the dullest gaggles of clowns ever to haul onto a stage (Ozzie, this means you, schlubbo. Do you know what you look like in those trousers?) Luckily I gained access to the photo pit after about twenty minutes of the set and was thus able not only to see the boys close up to hear the music at a decent volume.
I really enjoyed it after that.

There was some horrible object tricked out like a giant seashell with a cross on it behind Bill Ward`s drum kit. Their S. Pokesman told me that Bill had recently delivered a jest (larf a minute, Bill is) about how they were gonna sell it to Blue Oyster Cult after the tour, but Blue Oyster Cult are American and therefore have much better props – not to mention better costumes. Just wait`ll you see Ozzie`s outfit.
Larf? I thought I`d never start.
Lessee now – they did “War Pigs”, “Children Of The Grave”, “Snowblind”, “Iron Man”, “War Pigs” – `ang on, I think I`ve already mentioned that one – “Sabra Cadabra” and lots of other good stuff. Geezer and Ioomi had the equivalent of six Laney 200-watt stacks each piled up into a neat little battlement across the back of the stage (but it still wasn`t loud enough) and Iommi was playing a really nice John Birch guitar with little crosses inlaid on the neck. Couldn`t see much of Bill, but he kept knocking his cymbals over so he must`ve been having a good time.
Once you`re in a position to get yer cortex shook, you can just settle down and groove while the band lumber around grinding it out. Occasionally they stop so that Tony Iommi can look pained and blat out one of his patented fast bits. The hall-mark of an Iommi fast bit (to use the technical term) is that it doesn`t really fit into the band context so “Sabba Cadabra” (the number into which it`s usually slotted) has to crunch to a halt while he jabbers away at Velocity Mark 10 for a few minutes.

IMG_0477

Ozzie looks great. He`s got this yellow T-shirt with a glitter V on the front and fringes on the sleeves and the world`s most ridic trousers. They`re tight around the ass (bad move, Ozzie) and baggy round the crotch (no Freddie Mercury I`ve-got-the-whole-world-in-my-pants tactics from these boys) and show his navy-blue underpants off to excellent advantage. They also clash exquisitely with his knee-length blue platform boots.
All joking aside, folks, I really like the Sabs (`specially when they`re really loud).
Most people I know who don`t like them generally make the mistake of taking them seriously (or trying to) and failing to get off because the whole Sabs trip is so patently dumb. The trick is to regard the whole thing (performance, audience reaction etc) as a huge joke mounted especially for your amusement and then (provided it`s loud enough) you can have a wonderful time.
I mean, what other band can provide a moment when their entire audience howls the word “Paranoid!” as loud as they possibly can? That`s always worth the price of admission by itself.
The food was unspeakable.

IMG_0478

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper. If you have a music-related web-page where this fits – please make a link to the article. With credits to the original writer of the article from all of us music fans!

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Alex Harvey, Elvis Presley Fan Club Convention, Lou Reed, Howlin` Wolf, Hot Vultures, Aerosmith.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Black Sabbath from New Musical Express, October 25, 1975

What is so fascinating with these older articles? Well, one of the things that I like is in the way that the articles are absolutely candid with their subjects. I feel that we lost something important when the music business “professionalised” and bands started to use press officers that controlled what were allowed to be written.
Probably sometimes under the threat of being sued by their lawyers and at other times with the threat of losing access to their stable of artists. A music paper without access to musicians wouldn`t be much of a music paper, you kow?
This is written before the days of contracts regulating what the papers could write, and it`s quite refreshing to read something like this even if it is over 40 years later…
Have fun!

IMG_1298

Have you heard about Ozzie and the Good Book?

BLACK SABBATH, in a new incarnation as a series of contrapuntal anecdotes.

By Kate Phillips

“The cat died, Ozzie.”
“What cat?”
“That horrible-coloured thing you shot in the garage.”
“It`s like bleeding Daktari in our garage,” mumbles the star. “You could go on an expedition in there and never come back.”
This makes The Horse That Fed Steve Marriott assume a minor perspective. A little later a friend who lives near Ozzie`s stately home reports that a Gentleman`s Shoot the star was asking about who will be charging £1,000 per gun per week. Too much.
“A thousand pounds?” repeats Ozzie, mildly disgusted. “I`d do better to pick off some more of the chickens.”
We`re into our sixth Pernod and water by now, but Wednesday night in Bradford still ain`t looking too wonderful. Geezer had some sense: he shot off home to Worcester right after the gig.

OZZIE AND THE GOOD BOOK

A young man reclines on a hotel divan. His long, fair hair criss-crosses the pillow and his triple-decker platforms are hurting his feet.
He lifts the telephone.
“Reception? Listen, how about coming up here to keep a lonely man company? No? Well listen, how does a sparrow make an emergency landing?
Eh?
“With a Sparrowchute!”
Tony Iommi, I hear later, once punched Ozzie on the nose for repeatedly ripping up hotel-supplied Gideon Bibles. I don`t know if you remember Tony with long hair. He`s worn it short for a long time now, with a neat moustache and knife-edge cream trousers. Oh yes, and the same old steel cross, resting atop the immaculate pullovers. In Bradford, when it`s time to change, he disappears from the bare, echoing school cloakroom that serves St. George`s Hall as communal dressing-room and secretes himself in the upstairs chamber (with the star on the door) for more than half an hour.
Ozzie`s still here: he didn`t bother to hide while assuming his yellow fringed shirt, tight yellow trousers and painful white boots. Now he leaps playfully round from one member of the band to another and pulls down their panties at crucial stages of undress.

Bill Ward endures these onslaughts without excitement. Gnarled and taciturn, looking very old, much older than the others, he`s climbing into bright red tights and the red tent-shaped maternity coat he “found in the wardrobe” this morning. He rounds off the tights with a pair of old blue plimsolls.
He looks like the Frog Prince.
There`s only one thing on Bill`s mind right now: the sins of a music journalist who`s been less than complimentary in print about Bill`s wife.
Bill reckons he`ll sue.
Are you very angry about it, Bill?
“Me and Melinda are used to being slagged off in the press” – he stares hard into my face – “but… well… No Comment. I don`t want to say any more.
“My wife will though,” he adds, glumly.

OZZIE AND THE CONCEPT ALBUMS

Gerald is sitting alone on a hard chair in the middle of the room. Gerald is rather a well-kept secret. He plays keyboards for Black Sabbath, and every night he dresses up in his own version of the fringed costume – but he and all his equipment are always completely hidden away from the sight of the audience.
Still, he`s honoured to be playing with his local heroes, and soon he`ll have his own album to do: musical variations on “The Ascent Of Man”.
“Ozzie`s going to help out with the singing,” he confides.
The last time Gerald tried to make a record, the studio burnt down.
“Our next album`s going to be a concept album,” Ozzie remarks, some time during the next two days.
“What`s the concept, Oz?”
“We dunno yet.”

IMG_1299

OZZIE AND THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF TODAY

Bradford isn`t a riot, not like Sheffield turns out to be, but the kids still pile up over the front of the stage and no one sits down all night. The imaginary axemen, who are present in large numbers and “Sabotage” teeshirts, turn their backs on the band and get heavily into miming Iommi`s riffs.
Iommi`s manner is stately. No fringes for him: in white satin, with gold braid and knee-length trumpet sleeves, and slightly embarrassed smiles at the other lads, he squirrels about on the guitar like someone demonstrating a knitting machine; and these breaks are generally the signal for relative hush. But it`s more fun when Oz doesn`t leave the stage, but totes his invisible axe as well; Ozzie`s performance is one unbroken act of communication across the barriers.
So Iommi`s effective but a bit of a smoothie, pretty Geezer camps it up like a King Charles spaniel, Bill flails his drums like a demented Thorin Oakenshield – but Ozzie is the natural-born star, and the Sabs could never have lived this long without him. Ozzie can howl out lines like “No more war pigs out for power! Hand of God has struck the hour!” and get straight back into bouncing up and down, peacesigning (“I just did it to them one day and they all did it back”) and inciting the crowd to boogie with the minimum of incongruity.

He actually notices individual faces in the crowd below him. He bridges the tuning-up gaps that straggle out numbers with “Are ya having a good time anyway? So are we!” so that the audience won`t feel ignored; and as the pain threshold mounts, and the din in your head becomes a blessed haze, the leaping yellow figure and square, hurt-looking Ray Davies features dominate the Town Hall`s trance.

OZZIE AND THE FANS THAT GOT AWAY

We were playing this baseball stadium in the States. We`re in the middle of a huge field and there`s a high wire fence all round it, with the kids outside. So I say to them, you know, come on, come inside, and suddenly they`re all climbing over the fence and running towards us like a human stampede, and we`re playing away, waiting for them to get up to us.
“But when they do, they don`t stop! They just trample right over the stage, bust up all our equipment, and rush away across the rest of the field and out of the stadium doors! `Cos the police are after them…”

In Sheffield City Hall, Lady Tony Iommi seats herself onstage. She crosses Aristockinged legs and smooths her blonde hair. She must be all of 24. “Aren`t you awfully young to be a reporter?” she enquires.
Tomorrow, the Daily Mirror is to interview the Iommis about their lifestyle. Like Ozzie and his Thelma, they too have a country house. It`s not quite so easy, though, to make the connection between Ozzie and Gracious Living.
Tony Iommi has patented a system of cartridge-type pick-ups which can all be slotted into one guitar. He says he may be appearing on “Tomorrow`s World” to demonstrate them. He doesn`t know a similar device has already been marketed in America.

Scene in the pub across the street from the hall: a becrossed and beteeshirted fan has been eyeing Geezer Butler longingly from the next table. Finally, he approaches.
“Geezer, will you dedicate `Megalomania` tonight to Sandra, Glennis and Bongo?”
“We`re not playing it,” counters a laconic Geezer.
“Oh!” says the fan. “Oh, that`s nice, innit?”
Geezer smiles seraphically.
The fan, nonplussed, backs away.

Why do you think it is, Bill, that all these really young kids like the band so much?
“I`m not sure I could tell you.”
Do they just like to get into a heavy daze and forget all their teenage troubles for a while?
“Oh yes, I thought we were assuming that. I was trying to think of some more profound reason why they get off on us.”

OZZIE REHABILITATES HIMSELF

“Grand larceny. I was in Winson Green for two months. Once I stole a telly and I was balanced on top of this wall, one of them with glass along the top, and I fell off; this 24 in. telly was sitting on top of my chest and I was screaming, Get me out, get me out!
“I had nothing to do inside; you did about two hours work a day and the rest of the time you were locked in your cell. That`s when I did these tattoos, with a sewing needle and a tin of grate polish.”
Were you into music in those days?
“Not really – maybe just the Kinks and the Beatles.”
So how come you`re a singer?
“When I came out of the nick… had to do something, didn`t I?”

Geezer`s back just in time for the gig. He clambers into dirty silver sateen jeans and a white fringed shirt lately liberated from Ozzie. But he retains the filthy blue braces that have been holding up his offstage trouserings.
“Those are disgusting,” pronounces Ozzie. “Here, let me put them straight for you.”
At this point, the latest issue of NME arrives in the dressing room. It`s a tense moment: the paper carries a lambastic review of the Sabs last week in Birmingham. Lucas, road manager, is incensed. “To think we`ve been looking after two of their girls for the last 48 hours,” he mutters accusingly.

Ozzie, who has naturally good manners, turns his back and studies his reflection in a glass at the other end of the room. He`s not about to get involved. When asked for an official reply to the review, he responds, simply (and justifiably), “Bollocks”. And that`s all anyone`s going to get.

OZZIE AND THE CHRISTMAS STOAT

`Twas Christmas Eve in the stately home, and Ozzie Osbourne, opening his bay window, leaned out to survey the snowy countryside. He sniffed at the icy air. Suddenly, right in front of him, he espied a tiny stoat, sitting up on its hind legs, gazing into his face (rather like a Sabfan, in fact).
And what happened, Ozzie?
“Nothing happened. We just looked at each other for a while.
“Then the stoat went away.”

And on to Sheffield.
Sheffield audiences are well known, nay notorious, for enjoying themselves without restraint, and one can excuse the elderly security men at the City Hall for panicking a bit last Thursday. They caused some unnecessary trouble, it seemed to me, at the sides of the crowd they could reach, but no one could have penetrated the middle of it once the Sabs were onstage, and the tiers of bodies in there were left to sway and fall about at will.

Iommi scuttled up and down his instrument with his usual static elegance, and Bill Ward`s drum solo – that`s the Drum Solo I`m talking about – sounded more like the Approach of World War One than ever – but me, I got bored whenever Ozzie wasn`t onstage to vibe things up. Ozzie gives the whole thing heart; Ozzie is power; Ozzie is the reason I`d go to a Sabs` gig any day rather than, say, the Hairdresser`s Ball (Roxy Music) I attended at Wembley the night after that.
Make no mistake – there`s no two ways about it. And you can`t say fairer than that.

IMG_1300

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: David Bowie, Elton John, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Roxy Music, I Roy, Steve Hackett, Milt Jackson, Mason, Larry Coryell.

This edition is sold!

ARTICLE ABOUT Black Sabbath from New Musical Express, October 11, 1975

Personally I think this album is one among many that Sabbath did that I enjoy a lot. I think this was a case of NME assigning the wrong guy to review a great album. The result is plain to see, and it goes awfully wrong for all involved. For historic purposes – here it is!

IMG_1275

Black Sabbath: Sabotage – (Nems)

Record review by Mick Farren

Black-Sabbath-Sabotage-vinile-lp2

I think it was Lester Bangs who put forward the proposition that people who went to Black Sabbath concerts derived their pleasure from ingesting massive amounts of downers and simply let the noise of the band vibrate their chest cavities, thus bypassing the ear altogether.
The problem with this thesis is that it hardly holds true for Black Sabbath`s records. You can scarcely achieve this kind of effect on the average home stereo without facing instant eviction.
There simply can`t be enough hermits and mountain dwellers to put this unpleasant record at number 9 in the charts.
At this point the fact has to be faced that Black Sabbath are simply low consciousness music.
(At this point the ingratiating critic slips in a disclaimer).
There is nothing essentially wrong with a low consciousness. It`s simply that I find it hard to relate to. I don`t have one. Neither do my knuckles trail on the ground when I walk.
Little Richard used to call rock and roll the healing music. Daily Mirror columnists like to call a tune “infectious”. This has to be atrophy music.

It`s heavy metal that`s so far into its half life that decay is almost complete.
The snap and fire of Jimi, the MC5 and even the early Who has been transformed by Sabbath into a ponderous, rolling THING that crushes all in its monomaniac path.
Is there no handsome young scientists who will come and save us in the nick of time?
Just as religoid chorales and tired shock tactics fail to disguise the essentially brutal thud-thud structures, the five cent psychiatry in the lyrics fails to boost them to even B movie stature.
Some couplets are dull gems of hothouse illiteracy.
How about: “Everybody`s looking at me / They`re paranoid inside / When I step outside I`ll feel free / Think I`ll find a place to hide”.
Then the subject enquires if he`s going insane. His only answer is loony laughter.
This isn`t psychodrama, It`s an amusement park ghost train. It has the same cheap, lowest common denominator, dubious thrill quotient while totally lacking the kind of gaudy innocence that might make it redeemingly charming.
It`s also highly successful, and probably causes brain damage.
Can I please take it off now?

IMG_1277

I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog.

This number of New Musical Express also contains articles/interviews with these people: Roxy Music, Bay City Rollers, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, The Who, Dave Mason, Mott.

The original music paper this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
2. The offer should be 15 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Black Sabbath FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, JANUARY 22, 1972

Hope you like this interview from the beginning of 1972. I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog. If you really like this sort of thing – be a follower of my blog! Thank you!

Image

BLACK SABBATH
Pamela Holman talks to Ossie Osbourne

You may remember your disappointment when Black Sabbath had to cancel their first British tour in months at the end of last year.
Well, They`re back on the road again, kicking off on Monday at Birmingham Town Hall, when they`ll have a host of new material to offer as well as many of their old favourites.
“I`m really looking forward to playing in Britain,” said Ossie Osbourne when I met him on a grey winter`s day in London last week. “We haven`t played here for such a long time and I feel that we`ve let down a lot of our loyal fans.
“Unfortunately we`re not doing any London dates. It would have been nice if we could have started the tour in London. We may be doing a separate gig at the Albert Hall later, but there`s nothing definite yet. It was really emotional when we last played there: we`d never enjoyed ourselves so much.
“The reason our December tour had to be cancelled was because I was very ill when we returned from the States in November. I had a septic throat and a temperature of about 105 and was out of action for a month.
“As a result we`ve been really pushed to get some new material together for our act, and it`s been hard work.
“We`ve got so much planned for 1972. We`ll be doing this British tour, then we`re off to America once again in March for four weeks. After that, there`s a Continental tour, then Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Africa – a worldwide thing.”
Black Sabbath`s fourth album is scheduled for release in April. This time the em- (emphasis? Blog Ed. note) will be on melody, but will still retain Sabbath`s characteristic heaviness.
“This album will have a number of short tracks in order for there to be a lot of variety,” Osbourne continued. “I think that long numbers get boring, and if we want to retain our popularity we`ll have to have a change.
“As yet we`ve only recorded about half of the backing tracks. We`re getting some weird effects in the studio, and doing insane things. For instance we got everybody to march to the top of this big staircase the other day singing “I-Ho” like the Seven Dwarfs. It was amazing; everybody just let themselves go, people who wouldn`t normally do that. We took it down on tape and are thinking of including it on the album but we`re not too sure yet. It really was an incredible effect. It sounded like there were a million people there.

I asked him if there was any chance of a follow-up to “Paranoid,” their immensely successful single released over 12 months go.

Image

WRONG IMAGE

“I just don`t know,” he said. “We didn`t want to get into the rut of producing one single after another because if you do that you get the wrong kind of image, and apart from that there`s too much to do when you`re trying to get an album together.
“Of course, we gained a lot more fans when that was a hit – many of them much younger than our usual followers. But I don`t care if people who come to see us are 10 or 110, provided they come along to listen to the music.
“But it drove us round the bend at some gigs. People kept jumping up on the stage and at one Northern date the kids accidentally damaged the speakers because they`d squeezed so many people into the place. The promoters kept letting more and more people in until it was like a gas chamber. Hitler would have had a field day!
“Since we released that record we`ve had a bit of extra money, but I think that money is pretty evil. Sure you need it to survive, but it`s brought me a lot of unhappiness. Through wealth you lose much of your identity, and you can`t communicate with people the way you could before. Your old friends look on you as if you`re not there, because they want you to change.
“I want to keep as many of my old friends as I possibly can, but you can`t always do that because they change their attitude towards you.

What can he see for the future of the band?

“All I can see is hard work for at least the next 12 months. We`re going to try to vary our music as much as possible, different approaches but maintaining the heaviness because we all dig heavy music.”

My note: The album Ozzy (or Ossie as he is called in the article) talks about was to be called Vol. 4. Among many die-hard Sabbath fans still regarded as one of, if not THE best album in all of the Sabbath catalog.

This was also a time when T. Rex and Marc Bolan ruled Britain! To understand how big he was, take a look at this 1971 poll from this edition of the NME:

Image

3 singles among the 10 best singles of 1971. T. Rex is also number 1 in the category “World vocal group”. As voted by the people.

Image

T. Rex shares first place with none other than John Lennon in making 1971`s best British album. Not bad at all, considering what kind of album Lennon made that year. A lot of other big names down that list too.

Anyone remember Marvin, Welch & Farrar? Voted 6th best British vocal group? Nah, me neither…but you may remember two of these three in their other group: The Shadows. Here is a song by Marvin, Welch & Farrar: http://youtu.be/AKXwmG60Fik

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these good people: T. Rex, America, Tom Fogerty, Stevie Wonder, Byrds, Dave Mason and Papa John Creach

The NME this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
  2. The offer should be around or upwards of 10 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
  3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.

ARTICLE ABOUT Cat Stevens FROM NEW MUSICAL EXPRESS, JANUARY 15, 1972

Hope you like this interview from the beginning of 1972. I have personally transcribed this from the original paper and you are free to use it as you like. If you use it on your own webpages – please credit me or put up a link to my blog. If you really like this sort of thing – be a follower of my blog! Thank you!

Image

The Cat in his lair
– An exclusive NME interview by Roy Carr

Putting an artist on a pedestal has always been a common practise and the worship of the graven star image a much exploited cult. Once it was the magnified animated reflection on the silver screen, today it is the contemporary singer-songwriter whose every word and gesture is taken as gospel by those seeking some kind of substitute spiritual fulfilment. Such is the frailty of the human ego that many of those directly subjected to this phenomena allow their life-style to be moulded beyond recognition by the lip-service bestowed upon them.

Not Cat Stevens. For he states with down-to-death directness “I find that it`s all really nothing more than a great joke.
“As far as anything is concerned, be it politics, generals…whatever, it`s all a great big game and you play it the best that you can. That`s as far as it goes.” He stresses: “The important thing is not to take anything seriously.
“Like the general who thinks that he is the `Father of the Army` has got to be crazy, because most of them hate his guts and you`ve got to remember that. You`ve really got to look at it with a sense of humour.”
However, Stevens admits that when he doesn`t think along this line, it brings him down.
“My most depressing time is when I start getting serious with myself,” he states with complete honesty. “I find that it comes through in my music. I`ll get all wound up in a particular line and I`ll start thinking about it while I`m putting it down on tape.
“Then when I listen to it a couple of days later, I say, `Forget it…that`s not what I`m thinking about, that`s hitting stone! You go as far down as you can possibly go and then inevitably you hit stone.”

Despite his success, which is still a source of amazement to him, Cat Stevens has remained levelheaded. The paradox is that he is almost the antithesis of his vocation. This trait is revealed in the simplicity of his domestic life, for Stevens has just bought himself a new home.
It`s not the expected sprawling multi-roomed mansion complete with a swimming pool hidden away in the green and pleasant heart of the English countryside. It`s a converted split-level terraced dwelling, a mere stall holder`s cry from the busy North End Road street market down at Walham Green. Outside, kids kick a football at the silent crocodile of parked cars – a queue of old ladies with bursting shopping bags form outside the brightly lit Top Rank Bingo Palace – the aroma of freshly baked bread that emits from the corner shop tempers the chillness of the air.
When I arrived at Chateau Cat, a gang of workmen were busy bashing, plastering and hammering everything in sight with a maximum of noise. Surely this was not a conducive atmosphere for a prolific songwriter, I commented when I initially came across Stevens seated cross-legged on the floor amongst a heap of books, paints and guitar cases busily cooking scrambled eggs and burning toast on a small electric ring plonked, for the time being, in the stone fireplace on the first floor.

LONDON

“Ahhhh well, being a city lad,” Steve chortled in mock tones, as he looked up from his culinary duties, “I enjoy living in London…in actual fact, I like all cities. Apart from London, the only other city that I`d like to live in though is Toronto. Now that`s a really fantastic place.” Having been exiled myself in that city of his choosing I had to agree.
“I would never live in New York,” he commented, while continuing his whisle-stop appraisal of the capitals of the world. The reason for this statement was: “New York finally eats you up. No matter how long a stretch you have there, you always get eaten up.”
Strange as it may seem, this urban atmosphere of almost perpetual motion in which Stevens exists, nay positively thrives in, acts as a stimulus for his numerous creative outlets.

“I like to be as close to the city as possible,” says Stevens, “having all these workmen around me is creating a constant stream of movement…only in that way is my mind free to move.
“For me, it`s great to write in a car.” That`s a somewhat surprising statement which I`m sure will immediately destroy any mental visions you may harbour of Stevens seeking inspiration in an aura of etheral tranquility.
“It`s great, `cause if I`m being driven somewhere in a taxi, I find that my mind is being constantly taken over by new sights. Therefore, I haven`t got the time to concentrate on any one thing and get lost in it, so I have to think and consequently my ideas are constantly changing. “A car is a great place to write in,” he concluded.

Totally aware that the contents of his music reflects the inverse of his turbulant environment, Stevens who until recently lived above his parents restaurant on Shaftesbury Avenue, feels that subconsiously it`s his natural reaction against this background of continual noise.

Image

CRITICAL

“I`ve had lorries outside my window for the last ten years,” he recalls. “I guess it`s that which I am combating.”
Be that as it may, Stevens takes great and personal care to safeguard his mental equilibrium from the constant pressures which beset an artist of his rapidly growing stature.
He admits: “I am my worst judge, or if you like, I am my best judge,” a wry smily etching deeply across his face. ” I`m very self-critical of what I`m constantly doing, all it needs is for someone to say something to spark me off and I`ll most definitely react against myself as to what I`m doing then.

“It`s just a safety catch that I have in my head that says when I`m being flattered and when I`m not being flattered. That`s how I change so much, I get involved with what other people are doing and what I think I`m doing.”

However, Stevens still finds time to allow for everyday idiosyncrasies, his most recent being his beard, which he is hurriedly regrowing after having taken razor firmly in hand and succumbed to the overwhelming compulsion to see what lays underneath.
“Before I shaved it off, I found that my beard was almost ruling me,” confessed the demon barber. “I was almost frightened to see what was underneath, it got so much that I thought I`ve got to beat it.” A brave man indeed, for I myself have never had the courage to do likewise.

“Well, I eventually did it,” he continued, “and I felt so clean, it was the first time that I have actually felt rain on my chin for I don`t know how many years…it was fantastic. But then I realised I didn`t want it like that so I`ve started to regrow it again.”
Elaborating on the virtues of facial fungi, Stevens is of the opinion, “you find that you can conceal things, not internally, but when you have an open jaw you automatically find that you conceal things within yourself…mainly in your head.
“Now normally, you`d take it inside of yourself when reacting to something, with a beard you can react quite openly and as you have a covering it doesn`t affect it too much…it`s not so internal, it`s an outgoing reaction.”

PRIORITIES

Success has turned more heads than a good looking woman, but again Cat Stevens is adamant in his determination to retain a sense of priorities and avoid being sucked up by the destructive superstar syndrome. Even the immediacy of his Stateside acclaim – being one of the few artists to actually show a profit on an initial expeditionary trip to the New World – hasn`t clouded his personal credo.
“The trouble is, that many artists become performing puppets, but they don`t know it. They still think they are in control which can be very dangerous because they`ll suddenly blow up and they won`t know why.

“The thing I found is trying to get as much control over my life as possible. It`s just a question of you working and struggling for that moment when you`re on top so that you can then do what you want. It doesn`t matter what thing you`re into, it`s just that you`re constantly working to reach that peak.
“There are those people who give up at a certain point and that`s something I haven`t done yet. In fact I don`t feel that I`m going to do it for a long time because I have so much energy to give myself that actually works.
“I don`t know what it is,” then with a hearty laugh suggests, “probably it`s just sexual frustration.” Still laughing, he makes a point to pass that remark off strictly as a joke. “Just recently I`ve had so many offers for life-long security as far as record companies are concerned, but I`ve said, `No.`

“Then it would just be like being fed through the mouth – I wouldn`t have a thing to do – so what`s the use. That`s not what I work for…to suddenly be given a throne and have people say, `Hey Man, you`re a success, we can forget about you.”

AUDIENCE

“I don`t want to forget about myself. I`d rather struggle as much as I can and get totally involved with the stupid things that really bring me back.”
Conscious of his audience, Stevens is forever striving to present a good concert in the best possible surroundings. To this end, he still avoids performing in those vast American stadiums, where the name of the game is: See How Many People We Can Pull In.
“I don`t go in for all that,” says Stevens taking a stand. “They`re only in it for the bread, it`s definitely a bread thing. The only thing is that you do get heard by a lot more people, but then you don`t really because you sacrifice the quality of your performance. They only see the event, that`s all. Now that`s what I call a drag. That`s not what it`s about.
“Records are private things, personal things and it doesn`t always mean the same thing to everyone who is listening, yet it has to be heard.
“You see, in America a large proportion of the audience comes for the event instead of the artist, now Elton John got caught up in this trap and he didn`t know it at the time.
“I guess that`s what festivals were really all about. It didn`t matter who was on, it was a nice summer and you`d go along to dig it because you knew other people would be there.

UPSET

“Honestly, I didn`t expect things to happen in the States like they did. But when I got there everything just felt right. Though I was angry at the time that `Mona Bone Jakon` didn`t get off the ground, but then it didn`t get off here or anywhere for that matter except in France.
“I was really upset about that, so when I went over I was really determined to make it on my first trip. I wasn`t into like doing three trips and like they say earn money gradually. I earned money on the first tour, even though it was only 100 it was enough to come out and say, `I`ve done it.` You don`t have to do loads of tours and like you don`t have to go through all that hassle. Not if you really mean what you say.”

Stevens yet again admits as an afterthought that he still is very much surprised by the reaction. “And that`s why I don`t want to get too hung-up on it, and let`s face it so many people do.”
With astute know how Stevens is instigating his own demand by only doing four week Stateside tours of selected dates at any one time. “I don`t want to play before 40,000 people in a football stadium, because that`s it…what`s the next thing?
“The only alternative then is to do jingles.”

The performer and writer of such classic music as “Wild World”, “Moonshadow” and “Morning has broken”, Cat Stevens (or Yusuf Islam as he calls himself today) will rightfully be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014.

http://youtu.be/-xLfxNuW-xo (Listen to “Wild World” here)

Image

Loon pants were hot fashion at the start of 1972.

Image

And Black Sabbath were busy on tour, just like today. 🙂

This number of the NME also contains articles/interviews with these good people: Siffre, Ginger Baker, Rick Grech (Traffic), Marmalade, Sandy Denny, Osibisa, Robert Fripp, Keith Moon and Roger Cooke.

The NME this article came from (pictured at the top) is for sale!

  1. Send me an e-mail, if you are interested. Send it to: geirmykl@gmail.com
  2. The offer should be around or upwards of 10 $ (US Dollars) to be considered. (This includes postage).
  3. We conduct the transaction through my verified Paypal account for the safety of both parties.